The secular Carmelites (OCDS) with Archbishop John Wong and Fr Mattheus Luta. From left: (Taking Clothing) Anita Andrew, Patricia Totu, Molly Tan, Felicity Jinu, and Maria Chee; (two left and two right of Abp Wong taking Definitive Promises) Mary Lee, Angela Ubu, Vivian Teo and Primus Chew; (Taking Temporary Promises) from right: Tuesda Piot, Julleya Wong, Dr Mary Sieman, Annie Chong and Saimon Wong

By Catherine Wan 

July 22 2022

THE long awaited occasion of Clothing and Promise-taking (Temporary and Definitive) for the Secular Carmelites in Kota Kinabalu was made possible by Archbishop John Wong on 16 July 2022, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt Carmel at the chapel of the Carmelite Monastery of OLMC and St Therese of the Child Jesus.    

In the past, the rites of Clothing and Promise-taking for those who had undergone various periods of formation in Carmelite spirituality were conducted by the Carmelite Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Carmelites.

Due to travel restriction caused by the MCO, no physical visit was made by the Spiritual Assistant for the past two years. Formation for the different stages of formation, namely, Aspirancy, Novitiate and Temporary promise was conducted online by Matthew Liow OCDS, formation director of KK OCDS community.

Aspirants, who undergo a one-year formation, are accompanied by Dorothy Kinajil before they are clothed with the Brown Scapular, symbolizing the habit of the Order of Carmel.

The ceremony began with the rite of Admission after the Gospel for the five aspirants present, who sought to be admitted to formation in the OCDS.

They each received a Bible and the Constitutions of the Secular Order. The celebrant addressed them: “The rule of the Secular Carmel is this – to live in allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ, following the doctrine and example of St Teresa of Jesus and St John of the Cross. May the Word of Christ dwell abundantly in your hearts. In all that you do, whether in words on in works, do it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”.

The prelate concluded the rite of Clothing and exhorted them to wear the Scapular worthily by imitating Mary in the service of Jesus Christ.

The next part of the ceremony was for the candidates for the Promises, who stood before the prelate, asking to be admitted, as the period of formation has been confirmed in them that the Lord has indeed called them to live the Gospel in the world and in union with Mary, Mother of God under her protection as secular members of Carmel.

The prelate, on behalf of the OCDS community, accepted their petitions and prayed that the Holy Spirit would confirm in them the work which He has begun.

In his homily, the Archbishop recalled that the disciple took Mary, the Mother of Christ home (John 19: 25-27), and prompted the community to ponder whether they too have prepared a place for Mother Mary in their hearts.

He explained that God sent his Son to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons…and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir (Gal.4:4-7).

‘We are heirs of God by becoming the children of God and we share the life of Christ by having His Spirit in our hearts that cry out: Abba, Father!” underlined Archbishop Wong, who exhorted the Promise-taking candidates to be like Mother Mary, the perfect disciple of Christ, in doing the will of God by uniting herself with Jesus.  

Following the homily, five novices took Temporary Promise (for three years) and four  candidates took Definitive Promise (for the rest of my  life), with the pledge:

I … inspired by the Holy Spirit, in response to God‘s call, sincerely promise to the Superiors of the  Order of the Teresian Carmel and to you, my brothers and sisters, to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience and of the Beatitudes, according to the Constitutions of the Secular Carmelites…. I confidently entrust this, my Promise, to the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Carmel”.

The candidates who took Definitive Promise were clothed with the Ceremonial Scapular, a token of the habit of the Carmelite Order.

After Mass, all those present continued the joyous celebration during the breakfast fellowship outside the chapel.

KK secular Carmelites pose with some guests from Kuala Lumpur and Kuching